Motorcycle racer Romano Fenati has been fired by Marinelli Snipers Team a day after one of the most reckless and egregious moves seen on a race track.
Fenati pulled up beside Stafano Manzi and grabbed Manzi’s front brake lever during a Moto2 race in San Marino, Italy, on Sunday.
The two rivals had been battling earlier and made contact, forcing both riders to run off the track and lose positions. Manzi was later penalized six grid positions for his next race for the first incident. Fenati seemed intent to get retribution sooner. He took matters into his own hands.
When he caught up with Manzi down the back straightaway, Fenati reached across and squeezed his rival’s brake lever.
Manzi was thrown off balance by his lurching bike but somehow regained control. He said after the race that he wasn’t sure how he stayed upright during the incident. The two remained close to each other on the track until Manzi crashed in Turn 10.
The 22-year-old Fenati, who had 10 Moto3 victories before moving up to Moto2 this year, was kicked out of the race after officials saw the replay. He was later suspended two races for having "deliberately tried to cause danger to another motorcyclist.”
British rider Cal Crutchlow said Fenati should be banned for life. “He should never compete on a motorcycle again,” Crutchlow said after finishing third in the top-tier MotoGP race Sunday. “You can’t do this to another motorcycle racer. We are risking our lives enough.”
“The Marinelli Snipers Team shall terminate the contract with Romano Fenati for his unsporting, dangerous and damaging conduct,” the team said Monday in a statement. “His irresponsible act endangered the life of another rider and can't be apologized for in any way.
“The rider, from this moment, will not participate in any more races with the Marinelli Snipers team. The team, Marinelli Cucine, Rivacold and all the other sponsors and the people that always supported him, apologized to all the World Championship fans.”
Fenati, who made headlines earlier in his career for kicking another driver on the track during practice, released a statement of apology Monday morning. He said he was retaliating for the earlier incident with Manzi, which he thought was caused by his opponent’s reckless driving.
“I apologize to the world of sport. I made a disgraceful gesture, I was not a man!” the statement said. “I shouldn’t have reacted to provocation.The criticisms are correct and I understand the animosity towards me.
“A horrible image of me and of the sport has come out. I'm not like that, people who know me well know that! I have never put someone else's life in jeopardy.”
Fenati also made headlines in 2015 when he kicked rider Niklas Ajo in warmups and also turned off Ajo’s engine during a practice start.
“Unfortunately I have an impulsive character,” Fenati’s statement read, “but my intention was certainly not to hurt a rider like me, rather I wanted to make him understand that what he was doing was dangerous and how I could also have done something similar to what he did to me!
“I know that my actions were not justifiable, I just want to apologize to everyone.”
Manzi had no intentions of accepting an apology when he spoke after the race.
“It’s difficult to forgive a gesture like that, where an opponent tries to kill a rival at over 200 kilometers per hour,” Manzi said in Italian. “Pulling the brake is not a forgivable gesture.”